dir John Crowley
scr Nick Hornby
prd Finola Dwyer, Amanda Posey
with Saoirse Ronan, Domhnall Gleeson, Emory Cohen, Jim Broadbent, Julie Walters, Jessica Pare, Eve Macklin, Brid Brennan, Fiona Glascott, Jane Brennan, Nora-Jane Noone, Emily Bett Rickards, Eva Birthistle
release UK/US 6.Nov.15
15/Ireland BBC 1h45
At sea: Ronan and Cohen

gleeson broadbent walters
london film fest
R E V I E W    B Y    R I C H    C L I N E
Brooklyn Constantly surging emotions become a little overwhelming soon after this film opens, never letting up until the very end. Most of this is genuinely resonant, thanks to a sensitive script and transparent performances from the entire cast. But even a slight hint of loose energy wouldn't have gone amiss, and might have helped balance the romantic suds with earthy realism.

In 1950, Eilis (Ronan) reluctantly leaves her mother and sister (Glascott and Jane Brennan) in rural Ireland for a new life arranged for her in New York. Settling into Mrs Kehoe's (Walters) boarding house and assisted by Father Flood (Broadbent), Eilis gets a job in a local department store and begins studying bookkeeping to overcome her homesickness. She also meets charming Italian-American Tony (Cohen) and gradually falls in love. But bad news from home requires her to return to Ireland, where Eilis meets eligible bachelor Jim (Gleeson) and has to decide where her home is.

Ronan can convey pages of thought with a mere flick of her eye, so Eilis' emotions run across her face in hugely resonant waves. It's a beautifully gauged performance that keeps Michael Brook's soaring score in check. And her scenes with Cohen and Gleeson bristle with distinctly different kinds of attraction. These three are so good that seasoned scene-stealers like Broadbent, Walters and Brid Brennan (as Eilis' prickly boss in Ireland) seem cartoonish by comparison. But they help create the atmosphere that pushes and pulls Eilis' heart.

Anyone who has moved away from home will recognise that swirl of conflicting emotions that are born in Eilis when she takes her first trans-Atlantic crossing and will never leave her. Feelings of guilt collide with the joy of discovery; yearnings for old comforts clash with the desire to create her own nest. More than a romantic triangle, this is the story of a young woman taking an unexpected journey that forever changes the way she defines the word "home".

Director Crawley shoots with a warm glow and an impeccable attention to period detail, sharply catching the contrast between the green hills of rural Ireland and the bustling excitement of America. Perhaps if the music was less gloopy, these scenes might have sprung to life with more authenticity. But the filmmaking feels almost fantastical, pushing every emotional moment while Hornby's script plays up the sweet romantic conversations. All of this is beautifully done, but only if you can leave your inner cynic at home.

cert 12 themes, language, sexuality 1.Jul.15

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